WFC Hosts Team Race Championships by Alicia Martorella
While we’re always bustling with marine education, paddling & cruising around West Harbor, the WaterFront Center hosts several events and regattas throughout the season, as well. The WFC organizes between six and ten regattas for youth and adult novice and championship racers between March and October. Kicking off the 2017 regatta calendar, WFC hosted the NYISA-SE League Team Race Championship on April 1.
The NYISA-SE League is comprised of high school teams from lower NY state, including teams from Long Island, Westchester, NYC and Staten Island. WFC boasts a fantastic venue for scholastic style racing with an unparalleled young fleet of perfectly matched c420s, team race style color-coded sails, quick-launching, close to shore racing and dedicated staff and volunteers for race management. Five teams competed in this year’s team race champs.
On the roster was Mamaroneck, Rye Country Day School, Rye High School, St John the Baptist and the home team of WFC sailors from Locust Valley, Syosset and Harborfields. Scholastic (high school and college) team racing features short, 10-15 minute races, on a specialized course, known as a “Digital N,” which includes non-traditional starboard mark roundings and reach legs, with six boats per set – three from each team racing against three from another. During the 3-minute starting sequence, boats pair up and push each other around in pre-start maneuvers, trying to keep their competitors either from starting on time, or nudging them over the line early. Once across the start line, teams work together to keep their boats in front by using strategy and tactics and engaging their opponents in rule-based situations. It’s a game of math: the team with less than 10 points wins. Inter-team and crew communication, quick thinking and top-notch boathandling are keys to success on the team race course.
Mamaroneck has a strong history of dominance at this regatta, having won the fall and spring championships in 2016. The team to beat, they were put to the test by strong wills and determined crew work from rival schools, despite the windy & cold conditions. Locust Valley/Syosset/Harborfields gave them the biggest threat, engaging in mark traps and pass-backs. The racing format included two round robin sets, with each team facing the others twice. To break ties in the standings, two sail-offs were held to finalize the rankings. Mamaroneck came out on top, with a perfect record of 8-0. Rye narrowly edged out Locust Valley in the sail-off to claim second (with a real nail biter of a finish!!). Rye Country Day beat St. John the Baptist in a sail-off to claim fourth place. In addition to being named League Champion, Mamaroneck will move on to compete at the Mid-Atlantic Scholastic Sailing Association (MASSA) Championship, in hopes of qualifying for the ISSA National High School Team Race Championship!
Of course, we were rooting for the home team, a composite team of sailors who train together at WFC but usually compete against each other at league events. This time, sailors joined forces and, despite their final ranking in third place, were the team to look out for on the course. Setting plenty of mark traps, pushing teams off the course and giving it all they had all the way to the finish, it was a joy to watch WFC sailors perform. Congrats to regatta team captain, Jack DeNatale, for leading the team to the finish line (and sometimes away from it to help teammates get there faster!). Caroline Martocci, Cormac Murphy, Bernadette Gunther, Julianna Bianco and Camryn Smithwith completed the line-up – congrats WFC sailors!
Because of the nature of close-quarters maneuvering and often pulling the racing rules of sailing into the tactical spotlight, team racing requires on-the-water umpires to ensure fair racing. WFC is fortunate to have many friends in the sailing community, including several US Sailing Certified Judges and Umpires, as well as strong racers with experience in high-level competition. Many, many thanks to our volunteer umpires: Bam Miller, Karen Miller, Wyz Mooney, Katie Mooney, Brendan Larrabee and Avi Lessman. Rendering unbiased decisions to ensure fair racing and plenty of learning for high-level youth sailing is a luxury in high school sailing. Umps, thanks for making WFC look good and helping to train the next generation of champions!
Regattas are not all about the racers. It takes a whole team of people who aren’t competing to make it happen. Alicia Martorella, Assistant League Director and regatta organizer, led a team of WFC staff and volunteers to provide another top-notch regatta experience for visiting sailors. Thanks to Heather Grosso (Principal Race Officer), Brent Bomkamp (Scorer), Alec Basilion (Safety/Mark Boat/Breakdown/Rotation Launch) and WFC HSS sailors and volunteers Lilah Donnelly and Rebecca Keller on race committee.
The WFC spring regatta hosting season continues with the annual Spring Fling High School Invitational on April 29 and the NY State Championship on May 13. High School Sailing will wrap up with the fan-favorite, Bay Day Alumni Regatta on June 4. Come on down to watch some great racing!